Tuesday, September 8, 2015

How Hollywood Deals with Piracy

© gcpics - Fotolia.com

Robbing Hollywood

When piracy of digital media began in the late 1990s, the issue was somewhat small and it was relatively easy to contain. The lack of high speed Internet connections made downloading large video and audio files difficult. Beyond that, the level of technology available to rip these video files from DVDs or to create digital media files from other types of physical media was simply not widespread. Fast forward ten years. High speed Internet connections are commonplace. Digital media is extremely easy to get. New sharing protocols such as torrents and new compression algorithms has made the sharing and piracy of digital media extremely easy to get into. This is a perfect storm for increased levels of piracy.

Reactionary Measures

The primary thing that Hollywood has done to combat piracy has been to react to its existence. They formed coalitions of lawyers in order to target assumed pirates. This has had positive and negative effects. The lawsuits filed by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) have historically been somewhat outlandish. Sharing the rip of a DVD could result in lawsuits for hundreds of thousands of dollars and other outlandish sums. This has results in a very negative view of the industry in the eyes of the public.

Beyond that, Hollywood has launched a massive public relations campaign aimed entirely at ending piracy. They put ads in front of movies with taglines such as, “You wouldn’t steal a car, would you?” in an effort to sway people against piracy. They also publish statistics about their losses and the effect that piracy is having on the film industry in major news outlets on a regular basis. By keeping the subject in the minds of the public, they hope to sway public opinion in their favor.

One of the few proactive measures that the film industry has taken is to include digital rights management (DRM) on the media that they produce and sell. This measure is meant to make it difficult for pirates to take control of their work and to share it or use it for unauthorized purposes. Unfortunately, pirates have been able to easily find ways around nearly every type of DRM that has been created.

There are also those people who see piracy as a good thing. It increases brand awareness and it has been shown that people who truly enjoy media will be willing to purchase it after they have viewed it. Some producers in Hollywood see piracy as a way to keep them on their toes. People will not be willing to blindly purchase movies based on trailers now and, thus, the film industry must modify their methods of media distribution and creation to “stay in the game”.